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Mathis v. Carter

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 5, 2017



          Gary Feinerman Judge.

         Charles Mathis filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Marcus Hardy, Darryl Edwards, Imhotep Carter, and Holli Logan, alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Doc. 1. At all relevant times, Mathis was an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center; Hardy was Stateville's warden; Edwards was its assistant warden of programs; Carter was its medical director; and Logan was a nurse. Id. at 2-3. The court recruited counsel on Mathis's behalf, Docs. 44, 45, and Mathis later retained additional counsel, Docs. 50, 52, 55. Discovery has closed, and a jury trial is set for April 24, 2017. Doc. 175. Defendants have moved for summary judgment, and also to strike certain exhibits submitted by Mathis. Docs. 165, 168, 188. The motions are granted.


         The following facts are stated as favorably to Mathis as permitted by the record and Local Rule 56.1. See Woods v. City of Berwyn, 803 F.3d 865, 867 (7th Cir. 2015). In considering Defendants' motions, the court must assume the truth of those facts, but does not vouch for them. See Arroyo v. Volvo Grp. N. Am., 805 F.3d 278, 281 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Mathis had a pacemaker when he entered state prison in 2005. Doc. 182 at ¶ 9. On August 15, 2011, he had pacemaker replacement surgery at an outside hospital. Id. at ¶¶ 13-14. There were no apparent clinical problems with the surgical site when he was discharged on August 16, id. at ¶ 15, and there were no signs of infection when Dr. Carter saw him at Stateville later that day. Id. at ¶ 19; Doc. 185 at ¶ 8. Dr. Carter prescribed some pain medication and antibiotics to ward off infection. Doc. 182 at ¶ 20; Doc. 185 at ¶ 8.

         Mathis soon became concerned about how the surgical site felt and looked. Doc. 192 at ¶ 4. He experienced pain and light bleeding, and felt something protruding from his chest area. Doc. 185 at ¶ 13. On August 23, he went to Stateville's Healthcare Unit but was not seen by a doctor. Id. at ¶ 11. On August 25, he submitted an emergency grievance to the Warden's office, claiming that he was experiencing pain and still had not been seen by a doctor. Id. at ¶ 12. That is the only grievance Mathis submitted that is related to this lawsuit. Doc. 182 at ¶ 5. The next day, on August 26, Mathis was taken to the Healthcare Unit and seen by a nurse (not Logan) because Dr. Carter was unavailable. Doc. 185 at ¶ 13.

         On August 28, Logan walked by Mathis's cell during her medicine rounds. Doc. 181 at ¶ 31. Mathis asked for help and showed her the incision; Logan told him that it was infected but that nobody was available to take care of it. Ibid. Medical technician Andrea Bacot took Mathis to the Healthcare Unit later that day. Doc. 185 at ¶ 16. Bacot noticed redness and dried mucus at the surgical site, and she cleaned and dressed it. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17. Mathis's medical records show that there was no medical emergency or need to see a doctor that day. Id. at ¶ 18.

         Beginning on August 23, Mathis sent letters to Hardy and Edwards through the regular prison mail stating that he needed to be seen by a doctor about an infection in his chest. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 19; Doc. 192 at ¶¶ 4-5. Mathis saw Hardy and Edwards before August 30 and reiterated his need to be examined. Doc. 185 at ¶ 26. Hardy told Mathis that he would “take care of it.” Ibid.

         Dr. Carter examined Mathis on August 30. Id. at ¶ 20. He observed mild surface inflammation at the surgical site and concluded that it was infected, but saw no evidence that the infection was spreading. Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. Dr. Carter prescribed a ten-day course of broad-spectrum antibiotics and scheduled an appointment a week later. Id. at ¶ 20; Doc. 182 at ¶ 48. A broad-spectrum antibiotic treats a wide variety of infections, which can make it unnecessary to identify the specific bacterium causing the infection. Doc. 182 at ¶ 49. The Warden's Office returned Mathis's grievance the next day, declining to treat it as an emergency. Doc. 185 at ¶ 22.

         Mathis was scheduled for a follow-up appointment on September 8, but it was cancelled due to a lockdown. Id. at ¶ 23. Dr. Carter next saw Mathis on September 13. Doc. 182 at ¶ 52. Mathis's medical chart indicates that the site was clean and uninfected and that he otherwise appeared healthy. Id. at ¶ 53; Doc. 185 at ¶ 24. Dr. Carter prescribed a triple antibiotic ointment to prevent the inflammation from returning. Doc. 182 at ¶ 56.

         Dr. Carter saw Mathis again on September 26. Doc. 185 at ¶ 25. He noted that Mathis's vital signs were stable and that the surgical site appeared healthy, but that Mathis was still experiencing pain in his chest area. Ibid. Dr. Carter testified that the pain was caused by the surgery itself and the normal healing process. Doc. 182 at ¶¶ 63-64. Mathis asserts that those opinions were not founded on medical science or a reasonable degree of medical certainty. Ibid.


         I. Claims Against Nurse Logan

         Mathis's claims against Logan cannot proceed because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies against her. The Prison Litigation Reform Act states that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 … until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see Porter v. Nussle,534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002); Hernandez v. Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 841-42 (7th Cir. 2016). Exhaustion of available administrative remedies “means using all steps that the agency holds out, and doing so properly (so that the agency addresses the issues on the merits).” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006). To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, a prisoner “must file complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison's administrative rules require.” Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002). Illinois law ...

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